I logged a lot of miles and time in the saddle this year. While most of my time is spent on the roads and trails of the south island, we do travel quite a bit and 2010 was no exception. What was an exception is how many cool rides I did away from home, as most trips saw me lugging my bike around with me in preparation for Ironman Arizona. Today I'm scrolling through my memory and recanting some favourite rides of the year away from home.
Coachella Valley, CA - Box Canyon Road. This will go down as one my favourite riding routes of all time. Kiki and I started in Mecca and right away were immersed in the fragrance of blooming grapefruits! Wonderful, not to mention the huge grapefruits on the trees... oh how I wanted to stuff my jersey pockets full! Box Canyon had no car traffic and amazing scenery, slot canyons heading off in every direction, and a gradual climb. We chatted as Jason leapfrogged us in the van, carrying Tana and Humu. Jason and I switched at the end of the road, and he got to ride through Joshua Tree National Park. Incredible ride and fantastic day... can't wait to do that one again.
Chatting our way up Box Canyon Road.
Also in Palm Springs, the climb up highway 74 - I brought up the rear on that one, with Jason leading the pack and Kiki chasing. Then there's Dillon Road, a flat, windy desert ride that served as my first long ride and first bonk of the year. The rides got longer from there, and the bonks got fewer.
Somewhere up Highway 74, looking down on Palm Springs.
Jason took this, I don't think I got this far up.
Beeline highway - Tempe AZ. How many times did I ride this? One loop in March when Jason and I went for a reconnaissance mission. One loop four days before Ironman Arizona. Half a loop the day before. Three loops during the race... this stretch of road will be forever seared in my memory now! It's a nice road for riding, as there is new pavement and a wide shoulder. A lot of traffic, but at least the big shoulder and rumble strips gives some of a buffer. It's somewhat scenic, especially for those of us from the lush temperate rainforest of coastal BC - it's not often we ride amongst desert scrub and saguaro cactus. I'll see you again someday, Beeline highway, I'll see you again...
Desertscape along the Beeline.
Whistler trails. OK, that seems more like home since we go there somewhat frequently, but it's over on the mainland so I'm throwing it on the list. I didn't actually spend as much time on the trails this year as I would have liked, blame that on all the training on the road. But the trails there are like nowhere else, a little piece of paradise surrounded by wood and rock. I have a routine when up there: the first trail I ride is up Peaches and Regalia in Lost Lake Park, then branch out from there. It's my own personal little welcome back to Whistler when I'm on that trail.
Whistler is one of the few places I enjoy riding bridges.
(Mystery photo credit - I found it online.)
Dawson Saddle, CA. Umm... so it wasn't ME riding... We were there for the Tour of California and didn't have our bikes with us. But I'd definitely like to ride it, and chasing the tour for the weekend was a highlight of 2010.
Lead group passing us by on Dawson Saddle.
Windsor, CA. We went down for Vineman, and not only is the bike course beautiful, so is the surrounding area. Tim and I went out for a ride before the race, and then of course race day I soaked in the Russian River valley, Dry Creek, Chalk Hill... gorgeous vineyards, rolling hills, postcard perfect!
Who wouldn't want to ride through scenery like this?
Coeur D'Alene, ID. I went for a spin on the trail along the lake early one August morning. I was surprised to see so many other riders and runners out there for how early it was; pedaling through town to the trailhead was a lonely affair as most of the town seemed still asleep. Lake Coeur D'Alene is deceptively large, but nestled in a little valley with lovely cottages tucked into the trees.
Lake Coeur D'Alene.
Leadville, CO. I can't say it was a "favourite" ride, as no one there seemed to get the memo that riding is so much more enjoyable when there's actually air! I rode the Mineral Trail, which gradually climbed over the town to top out at 10,600 feet. Pretty high for this sea level girl!
Vail Pass, CO. Another ride without the appropriate amount of oxygen. After about four days at altitude at that point, I was hitting my limit and fatigue level, and this probably would go in the record books as the most miserable (but don't get me wrong, beautiful scenery) ride and the biggest bonk of the year. The second time up Vail Pass during the ride (yes, second!), I had to keep telling myself not to cry because that would only cause me to go even slower - if that was even possible at that point! Coach Kiki had to do some major damage control with my psyche after that one.
My only company up Vail Pass.
Sea to Sky highway, BC. This was the Whistler Gran Fondo, and again, not far from home but a route I'd always wanted to ride. Traffic had always been the factor that prevented me, so I was quick to sign up when the event was announced. Beautiful scenery, flawless organization, tough climbs and fun descents. Can't wait until next year!
Sea to Sky highway
Cumberland to Campbell River, BC. Back on the island, but away from home because it's the north island. Not a particularly scenic ride, but memorable for a few reasons. Tim had suggested it; he thought it would be great IM training and he was right. Memorable because of how hard it was raining and how hard the wind was blowing. Memorable because I spent six hours in the saddle and felt great at the end - at that point I knew I had done what I needed to do for a good ride in Tempe on race day. Memorable because I got a huge staple in my tire and didn't flat - tubeless road, you rule!
Today's highway cam of the Inland Island Highway.
To complete my ride, add a downpour and violent wind!
There's my 2010 away from home ride round-up. What a fantastic year I've had; I don't think I can top that in 2011!